Republic Services Renegotiates Trash And Recycling Fees Nationwide

By Heather van Blokland
Published: Thursday, July 11, 2019 - 1:59pm
Updated: Thursday, July 11, 2019 - 2:01pm

Approximately 500 Fountain Hills households recently received incorrect trash bills. The goof comes after a contract renegotiation on services fees.

A routine account audit by Republic Services showed the error  — some residents were billed without receiving services and some homes received trash pick-up and no bills. According to the Fountain Hills Times, Republic’s account manager wrote an email apology to the Town Manager.

The timing is problematic as Republic has been renegotiating fees and contracts with cities and towns across the country to make up for losses incurred from massive changes to U.S. recycling.

In late January, Fountain Hills signed a new five-year contract with Republic for residential curbside solid waste collection service at a renegotiated higher fee of approximately 3% annually for the life of the eight year remaining contract. That translates to a cost increase from $11.58 to $14.37 per month for once a week a service and $16.64 to $19.37 for twice a week service.

Republic Services driver Gabriel Ibarra
Heather van Blokland/KJZZ
Republic Services driver Gabriel Ibarra picks up recycling in the East Valley in 2018.

On July 30, the Hernando County Commission in Brooksville, Florida will hold a public hearing on garbage rate increases proposed by Republic Services. Republic is seeking a rate increase for the next fiscal year, which is allowed in the company's county contract. The garbage fee increase is separate from another proposed increase in solid waste assessment fees.

In April, Republic proposed a 74 cent increase to trash service fees charged to customers in Delmont, Pennsylvania. As of July 1, Republic Services raised trash rates in Landrum, South Carolina. Starting as early as Aug. 1 in Indianapolis, Republic Services Inc. will raise its rates for its recycling customers. For many, by as much as double.

Pete Keller, vice president of sustainability at Republic Services, said recycling is approximately 8% of the company's overall business. In late 2017, China enacted its "National Sword" policy, which details import bans, restrictions and contamination regulations for imported recycled material from the U.S. Since the implementation of China’s waste import ban, more communities across the U.S. are looking for alternative ways to handle their recycled materials, and also caused rates to rise for traditional trash services.

"A 0.5% contamination level in a recycling commodity is a very, very strict standard," said Keller earlier this year. "The U.S. infrastructure, the recycling infrastructure is not capable of making that quality today. So, there’s a lot of supply in the marketplace that cannot move to China. The marketplace is oversupplied. That has caused pricing to plummet. In some places, actually go below zero. So a recycling commodity that might have traded at $100 a year ago is now trading at zero and obviously that puts a lot of strain on the business model."

Phoenix-based Republic Services is the second largest solid waste and recycling company in the U.S. operating in 40 states and Puerto Rico covering 240 markets. The company manages approximately 100 million waste tons per year. About 8.5 to 9 million of those tons are recycling. Republic has been publicly traded for 20 years and has grown organically and inorganically through acquisition.

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